Notable bakeries and donut shops in California are serving up some of the best desserts and baked goods in the country. From Asian to Cuban to hipster, these bakeries offer some of the most unique and diverse creations that can satisfy either a sweet tooth or a craving for something savory.
Who said apple pie is just for Thanksgiving? In a small town an hour from San Diego called Julian, some of the best apple pies are being baked. Walking into the old-fashioned American pie shop gives you the feeling of grandma’s kitchen as she whips you up a piece of apple crumble pie a la mode.
If you have never had a Chinese egg tart, you will not be disappointed with an egg tart from Golden Gate Bakery in the Chinatown of San Francisco. Egg tarts are similar to individual pies with a creme brûlée filling on the inside. The ones at Golden Gate have a flaky crust and a perfectly creamy center. Golden Gate Bakery is always on vacation and is rarely open, so getting your hands on one of their egg tarts is a privilege.
3. Donut Bar
Located in San Diego, Donut Bar serves up some of the most delicious, creative, and aesthetically pleasing donuts in California. A popular one is the creme brûlée donut, which has a crunchy sugar shell and a cream filling. They also make donuts with popular character faces, such as Harry Potter, Spiderman, and others depending on the day. Be sure to come early, because usually Donut Bar sells out by 9 am.
This Cuban bakery is baking some of the best and most interesting Cuban pastries in California. Besides being very reasonably priced, Portos has interesting pastry combinations, like the ever-popular guava cheese pastry. Another fan favorite at this Latin American bakery is the potato ball, which tastes like fried mashed potatoes with a meaty filling.
Lady M creates some of the most beautiful cakes made with layers of crepes that look way more like art than dessert. Not only are they beautiful, but these crepe cakes are also absolutely delicious.
6. Benkyodo Co
A hole-in-the-wall Japanese bakery in Japantown of San Francisco, Benkyodo Co. is an old-fashioned mochi bakery that has some of the best mochis anyone could ever ask for. They have a variety of fillings and flavors, but all of their mochis melt in your mouth.
Home of the infamous cruffin in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is a new bakery serving interesting pastries that are well adorned and fancy. The bakery opens in the morning to long lines, so be prepared to wait. If you really want to get your hands on a cruffin, there is a limit of two cruffins per person and an entirely separate line dedicated to it.
In a small trailer in Orange County, Honey & Butter is baking macarons shaped like characters that are almost too adorable to eat. These macarons look like classic characters that we all know and love, such as Disney figures and animals.
Nothing can get more hipster than drinking a latte in a cute coffee shop in the Mission district of San Francisco. Craftsmen and Wolves is a hip bakery serving baked goods that look like works of art. Of the many notable baked goods they produce, the Rebel Within is one of their most famous. Consisting of a soft boiled egg inside of a cornmeal muffin, the oozy egg yolk that is revealed when slicing through the muffin is Instagram-worthy on its own.
10. Tartine Bakery
Known for their fresh bread, Tartine Bakery is another hipster bakery in the Mission district of San Francisco. They make their breads fresh each day, and sell them at a specific time in the afternoon. The bread comes fresh out of the oven to a long line of waiting customers. Besides bread, they also bake renowned desserts, like tarts and cookies.
11. Cream Pan
Cream Pan is known for their fresh, flaky fruit croissants. These small, crispy and flaky pastries are filled with cream and fruit.
12. Nomad Donuts
Nomad Donuts is a gourmet donut shop in North Park of San Diego that makes donuts from small-batch farmers market ingredients. This donut shop makes their donuts specifically to be paired with their artisanal coffees.
13. Cafe 86
A Filipino take on a cupcake, ube cupcakes are one of the many specials on Cafe 86’s menu. Not only is the dark purple cupcake pleasing to the eye, but the soft, creamy flan on top adds an extra element of surprise to the experience of having a treat from Cafe 86.
14. Fantastic Donuts
Known for their adorable donuts shaped like teddy bears, Fantastic Donuts is an Asian donut shop that is dishing out some of the most artistic creations in the food scene in Los Angeles. Besides being cute and fun to eat, their donuts are light, airy, and unique.
15. The Cravory
Chewy and perfectly baked, cookies from The Cravory come in various flavors. Whether you want a stuffed cookie, a jam-filled cookie, or a simple, classic chocolate chip, The Cravory is the place to go to satisfy your cookie cravings.
Located in Los Angeles, California Donuts serves some of the most interesting donuts in California. They have interesting combinations, such as maple bacon, and are famous for their Oreo panda donuts.
17. Martabak Cafe
Located in southern California, this south-Asian bakery is bringing Malaysian pancakes to the hands of happy bakery lovers. Fluffier and more cake-like than American pancakes, Malaysian pancakes come in a variety of flavors and different fillings.
Located near San Francisco, Zanze’s Cheesecake is an old-fashioned cheesecake shop that makes homemade, fresh cheesecakes that are to die for. Creamy, smooth, and not too heavy, Zanze’s cheesecakes come with a variety of toppings, ranging from fresh fruit to creams and crumbs.
If you’re craving donuts in the middle of the night, DK Donut’s (and its 24/7 service) is the place to go. They have over-the-top donut flavors and toppings, including candies, cereals, and cookie crumbles. They also serve double-decker cronuts stuffed with cream and regular donuts stuffed with ice cream.
A cute study spot serving fresh and delicious bakery goods and coffee, Thorough Bread and Pastry is a popular place in San Francisco. When there, be sure to pick up a sticky bun, almond croissant, plain croissant, or apple gallette.
Fonuts is an interesting donut shop in Los Angeles serving baked donuts that taste lighter than the usual fried donuts. Some of their best flavors include blueberry earl grey and rosemary olive oil.
22. Bottega Louie
For a bougie, luxurious bakery experience, check out Bottega Louie. When you first walk into the bakery, you are instantly greeted with a case filled with a chromatic assortment of macarons. The cakes and pastries are also works of art on their own, so get your cameras ready for pictures.
23. Liguria Bakery
Liguria has been serving one — and only one — item for the last 100 years: foccacia. Founded in 1911 in San Francisco by Italian immigrants, Liguria serves authentic, Italian foccacia in different flavors and that’s freshly baked each day.
24. Proof Bakery
A cute bakery in Los Angelous, Proof Bakery is known for their delicious pastries, accompanied by a cup of their lattes. Some of the popular items on the menu include the salted caramel chocolate tart and the almond croissants. This is a great bakery for an afternoon meet-up with friends or for catching up on a good book while eating good pastries and coffee.
Another quaint, little bakery and cafe in LA, Huckleberry is baking pastries that are to die for. Whether you go for their moist, loaf cakes or flaky croissants, you will not be disappointed with the choices here.
Arizmendi is a quaint bakery in San Francisco that serves some of the best fresh-baked bread and pizzas. Their breads come in both savory and sweet forms that are different each day.
For all dessert lovers, Extraordinary Desserts is the place to go for extravagant cakes that are truly extraordinary. The cakes are adorned with roses and flowers that make each slice a show on its own.
28. Mazetti’s Bakery
Mazetti’s Bakery is a small, family-owned Italian bakery that serves some of the best, freshly-baked Italian pastries in the state. They make some of the best apple turnovers with the perfect ratio of apples to flaky pastry. They are best known for their Derbie Cakes, which come in either chocolate or vanilla. With layers of fluffy, moist cake, the cake (that weighs at least 5 pounds from all the cream and fruit) is stuffed with fresh whipped cream, sliced strawberries, and sliced bananas.
One of the many hole-in-the-wall spots in the Chinatown of San Francisco, Good Mong Kok Bakery is making some of the best Chinese breads and classic dim sum buns around. They are known for their over-sized barbecue pork buns that come either steamed or baked.
30. The Pie Hole
Nothing beats a good slice of pie, and the Pie Hole in LA is baking pies that are different from your typical apple and pumpkin pies. Some of their flavors include Matcha green tea, earl grey tea, and Mexican chocolate.